How to unblock Zoom from the UAE

Despite Dubai’s status as a global business and tourism hub, VoIP services continue to be blocked in the Middle Eastern location, including Zoom.

Zoom’s rapid emergence as a teleconferencing app of choice for businesses and freelancers means being able to unblock Zoom from the UAE is on the priority list. No doubt, the fact that it doesn’t work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an irritating factor.

There is a workaround though.

If you connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), it’s possible to hide your actual IP address. The software makes it appear as if you’re connecting to the internet from a different location by routing all traffic flowing to and from your device via an intermediary server.

How to unblock Zoom in the UAE with a VPN

It’s not hard to unblock Zoom in the UAE, or in other locations where its currently unavailable such as Iran, Cuba, Qatar, and Kuwait.

How to Unblock Zoom with a VPN

  1. Decide on a suitable provider. Since very few VPNs work in the UAE, it’s important that you choose the right one. Our recommendation is ExpressVPN.
  2. Download and install the appropriate VPN software for your device. Only use official app stores or websites for this purpose.
  3. Connect to a server in a country that doesn’t block Zoom. Common locations could be the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, or Germany.
  4. Once the connection is established, go ahead and open the Zoom app. You should now be able to make and receive calls without an error message.

In this article, we’ll explain how to access Zoom in the UAE and the best VPNs to use to bypass local restrictions. If you want to jump straight to our recommendations, here’s our list of the best VPNs to access Zoom in the UAE.

Best VPNs to unblock Zoom

  1. ExpressVPN: Our top choice to access Zoom. Top-notch speeds, military-grade encryption, and friendly customer support make it a game-changer.
  2. NordVPN: Superior budget option. A vast global network of optimized servers and uncrackable encryption make it a worthy contender.
  3. Surfshark: Up-and-coming provider that’s rapidly carving out space for itself. Growing server network and fast speeds.
  4. PrivateVPN: Reliable VPN service with servers optimized for high speeds. Works well in the UAE.
  5. VyprVPN: Some of the hardiest encryption protocols in the VPN industry. Scrambling technology considered to be world-class.
  6. PureVPN: A revamped privacy policy and lots of new features result in a vastly-improved service.

There are hundreds of VPN services to choose from, but you need to pick one carefully. Not all of them are up to the task of unblocking Zoom in the UAE. Our top six recommendations are based on the following criteria:

Criteria for selecting the best VPNs to unblock Zoom

  • Proven to work in the UAE
  • Offers fast speeds for video and VoIP calls
  • Has a robust server network
  • Deploys top-notch encryption to keep your location hidden at all times
  • Doesn’t store any personally identifiable information

Best VPNs to unblock Zoom

Take a look at our list of the best VPNs to unblock Zoom below, so you can start making calls as soon as possible:

1. ExpressVPN

Express VPNJul 2019unblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

ExpressVPN offers access to over 3,000 servers across the globe with plenty of high-speed connections to Europe, North America, Australia, and Southeast Asia. All these regions allow unfettered access to Zoom, so you’re in the clear when it comes to accessing the service from the UAE.

ExpressVPN is fast enough to be able to stream HD video without any noticeable buffering or lag. What’s more, it’s proven to work with media platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu, so uninterrupted HD video calls on Zoom won’t pose a challenge.

This VPN uses military-grade encryption protocols such as 256-bit AES protection, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and protection against WebRTC and DNS leaks. It won’t record your IP address at the time of login or any other personally identifiable information. Privacy-conscious users can sign up with a burner email account and pay via Bitcoin for further anonymity.

ExpressVPN’s customer support team is available around the clock and will help you identify the best server to unblock Zoom in case you run into any issues. Its well-designed, minimalist apps can get you online in a matter of a few minutes.

ExpressVPN offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux, Android, and select few routers. One account allows for five simultaneous connections.

Pros:

  • Fast enough to play HD video without buffering
  • Optimized for high-speed connections
  • Top-class security and privacy protection features
  • Offers 24/7 live chat
  • One of the best all-around VPNs

Cons:

  • Slightly more pricey than other services

BEST VPN TO UNBLOCK ZOOM:ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. It ships with fast servers, solid encryption, and a 99% uptime record. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPNunblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

NordVPN’s server network is colossal, and no other provider on this list comes close to matching it. If that’s not a good enough reason to opt for the service, you might want to consider that its servers are optimized for streaming, P2P file-sharing, and encryption. You’ll definitely find a suitable connection for lag-free Zoom calls in the UAE.

This VPN provider’s security features are among the best in the business. NordVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption along with perfect forward secrecy, and DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection. Additional measures include an application-specific kill switch, automatic wifi protection, ad-blocking, and anti-malware defense.

NordVPN doesn’t store any personal user details and is known as a ‘no-logs’ provider. Its customer support is available 24/7 and it offers apps for all the major platforms — Android, iOS, MacOS, Linux, and Windows.

One account allows for up to six devices to connect simultaneously.

Pros:

  • Military-grade 256-bit encryption for great privacy
  • Offers 24/7 live chat
  • Operates a network of more than 5,000 servers in 60 countries
  • No-logs policy

Cons:

  • Isn’t primed for novice users

BEST BUDGET OPTION:NordVPN is cheap but doesn’t compromise on any features required in a modern-day VPN. It’ll keep you secure and private on the web. Try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of NordVPN.

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3. Surfshark

SurfShark VPNunblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

Surfshark is new to the VPN world, but don’t let that discount its product by any means. We found that the service does its job very well when judged from a speed, privacy, and customer support angle. Its current server count is about 800 spread across 50 countries but we expect this number to go up in the near future.

Security comes in the form of 256-bit AES encryption, along with perfect forward secrecy, protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks, and an internet kill switch. Surfshark’s proprietary CleanWeb™ and Whitelister™ functions will guard you against ads and malware, and provide a split tunneling feature.

This provider doesn’t log any personal details on its users so your digital footprint is definitely covered. So you can be sure your data is kept private during Zoom meetings.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android and you can connect an unlimited number of devices with one account.

Pros:

  • Provides a secure, encrypted connection
  • Offers 24/7 live chat
  • Decent, reliable speeds
  • Up-and-coming provider

Cons:

  • Relatively small server network

GOOD SPEEDS:Surfshark will enable you to stream Zoom from the UAE. Try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our Surfshark review.

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4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPNunblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

PrivateVPN has a smaller server count than most competitors — only about 150 spread around the world, but they’re all optimized for high-quality performance.

The service works fine in the UAE, but if you run into any problems with the default protocols, just enable the ‘Stealth VPN’ feature (it can be found under software settings) and click reconnect.

PrivateVPN has quite the reputation for streaming HD video and enabling access to geo-restricted media, so your bandwidth-heavy Zoom calls are definitely catered to. It effortlessly unblocks services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Security features include 256-bit AES encryption, an internet kill switch (on the Windows app), and protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks. Customer service can be a little clunky, but it’ll help if you run into any problems.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. One account allows for six devices to connect at the same time.

Pros:

  • Zero-logs provider
  • Speeds are good enough for high-quality streaming
  • Provides a secure, encrypted connection

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat

VERSATILE:PrivateVPN keeps you secure and private on the web. It works in the UAE and ships with high-speed servers. Try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our PrivateVPN review.

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5. VyprVPN

VyprVPNunblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

VyprVPN ships with some of the most sophisticated location-evading technology in the VPN industry. It owns all its servers and its proprietary Chameleon™ scrambling feature will further obfuscate your connection so that even the most determined of snoopers can’t figure out what you’re up to online.

These expansive privacy protocols do exert a toll, however. The end result is that VyprVPN is slightly slower than some of its rivals. But do keep in mind that the UAE is on an active warpath against VPN providers, so the more sophisticated encryption at play, the better it is for the end-user. In fact, the company recommends that you use the Chameleon™ protocol for an uninterrupted experience in the UAE.

VyprVPN operates around 700 servers across North America, Europe, and Asia. It includes a location in Dubai if you’re trying to obtain an IP address from the UAE.

This service can assist in unblocking geo-restricted media platforms like Netflix US and UK, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more.

It includes apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. A premium account allows for five devices to connect at the same time.

Pros:

  • Class-leading security and privacy features
  • Keeps no logs
  • Owns and manages its entire network of servers

Cons:

  • A little pricey

FIRM ENCRYPTION:VyprVPN’s location-evading features are second to none. Try it with a 3-day free trial.

Read our review of VyprVPN.

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6. PureVPN

PureVPNunblocks zoomTested Jul 2019

PureVPN is on a resurgent path of sorts to recover from some bad press and a potentially misleading privacy policy. Based in Hong Kong, this provider is now far more transparent about its data-logging procedures, clearly explaining that it doesn’t store any user logs.

In total, it offers access to over 2,000 servers spread across 140 countries, giving it a truly global presence. It throws in unlimited data transfer and secures all traffic by way of 256-bit AES encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks. Additional measures include perfect forward secrecy, malware protection, ad blocking, and URL filtering.

Speeds are fast and the service enables access to Netflix US and UK, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Another recent upgrade is access to 24/7 live customer support.

Apps are included for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. One account allows for five devices to connect concurrently.

Pros:

  • Per-app split-include configuration for Windows and Android
  • Military-grade security
  • Large server network

Cons:

  • Connections occasionally took up to a minute during testing
  • Overcoming the stigma of earlier bad press surrounding privacy

MANY SERVER OPTIONS:PureVPN works in the UAE and enables high-speed connections to almost anywhere in the globe. Try it with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Read our PureVPN review.

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Should I use a free VPN to access Zoom in the UAE?

As we mentioned at the start of this article, it’s incredibly hard to find a fast and efficient VPN that’s proven to work in the UAE.

That’s because local authorities deploy sophisticated filters and detection algorithms to ward off VPN use. No one’s exactly sure why that’s the case, but the fact of the matter is that VPNs with inferior security parameters and ineffective scrambling technology will struggle to operate effectively in Dubai.

That’s why free VPNs don’t make the cut. Most of them aren’t equipped to handle the blocking protocols put in place by authorities in the UAE.

Even in the rare chance that you do find a free VPN which works in the UAE, you’ll be subjected to data caps, bandwidth throttling, and wait times to connect to a server. That’s because such services don’t invest in their network infrastructure the same way that paid VPNs do. You’re almost guaranteed a migraine-inducing experience with frequent interruptions to your Zoom video call.

To make things worse, free VPN apps come with several unwanted add-ons. Frequent advertisements and notifications to upgrade are part of the package. Lots ship with malware, which could lead to data loss and financial extortion. And some are in the business of tracking your online habits in order to sell to advertisers — that goes against the ethos of using a VPN in the first place.

Overall, we don’t think it’s in your best interests to use a free VPN. If you’re in need of a short-term fix, then it’s possible to sign up with one of our recommended providers and cancel within the trial period for a full refund. Otherwise, the few dollars each month is a worthwhile investment.

Why are VoIP services blocked in the UAE?

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has steadfastly upheld the ban on VoIP services such as WhatsApp, Facetime, SkypeViber, and Zoom despite several public appeals to unblock them. The reasons for the ban have never been clearly articulated but the slant is that the regulator is trying to protect the commercial interests of the two major telecommunication companies in the country: Etisalat and DU.

While we can’t say this with absolute certainty, it appears as if the bans are here to stay. They’ve been in effect for several years and there’s been no indication from regulators that they might be considering a relaxation.

Where else is Zoom blocked?

Zoom says its service is currently unavailable in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Ukraine (Crimea region), and the United Arab Emirates. It’s also possible that it’s restricted in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, given that those countries follow UAE’s lead when it comes to blocking VoIP apps.

While the video conferencing unicorn adds that it’s “exploring all options to restore full VoIP service to this region,” the fact is that its hands are tied. Until the regulators allow full access, there isn’t much the company can do of its own accord.

Are VPNs legal in Dubai?

VPNs are perfectly legal all over the world with some exceptions. They have legitimate purposes — securely accessing public wifi, prevention from DDoS attacks, and accessing internal corporate networks.

According to cybercrime laws in the UAE, if individuals use a VPN to conceal their identity while attempting to commit a crime online, then they can attract heavy penalties. However, this doesn’t criminalize the use of a VPN in its own right.

What else can I do with a VPN?

VPNs can certainly help you access Zoom, but that’s not the only reason you should consider investing in one.

The software’s encrypted tunnel means you can use it to securely access public wifi networks — the ones found in coffee shops, airports, and malls. Said networks are typically unsecured and liable to hacking attempts.

Another effective use case is to access your online bank account. This comes into play if you’re traveling or trying to log on from outside the country of registration. Fraud detection algorithms might lock you out, but if you use a VPN to spoof your location, then the bank systems will assume you’re still on home turf.